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Cris Collinsworth: NBC Wanted To Do The Maddencast Years Ago

“There was a time when they wanted John Madden to do the games and I’m in the studio and they always sort of had this dream of two analysts doing the games.”

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Fans of the NFL have heard Cris Collinsworth’s voice on either NBC or FOX at some point on Sundays in their lives. He is more known for being an analyst than doing play-by-play, but it was an idea that NBC thought of trying when they got the rights to football back. 

On the latest episode of the Just Getting Started with Rich Eisen podcast, Collinsworth talked about his broadcasting journey and an idea NBC had that was similar to what Peyton and Eli Manning are doing now at ESPN.

“There was a time when they wanted John Madden to do the games and I’m in the studio and they always sort of had this dream of two analysts doing the games. I would sort of do the play-by-play and John would be the caller, but it would be much more of a conversation about football than a traditional broadcast. Like Peyton and Eli sort of.”

“They fly a jumbo jet 747 across the country. They take the whole NBC Sports team to John Madden’s studios. We go in to do this game. I’m doing the play-by-play. I’m sort of like how hard can it be?  I started doing some practice games before that. They put a microphone on me and Merril Hoge came and they would record them and we would call the games.”

However, when Collinsworth tried to do play-by-play, he quickly learned that he could not call the game the same way he does as an analyst. 

“I couldn’t undo what I had learned to do my whole life. When I broadcast the game, I don’t watch the football. A lot of times, I lose where it is. I think Al’s job is to tell you what’s happening to the football and my job is to tell you something you didn’t see. When I’m trying to do play-by-play, now I’ve got to watch the football. I didn’t really know just getting on-the-air, that’s a lot harder than you think it is.”

As the story goes on, Dick Ebersol tells Collinsworth if he wants the job, he can have it. However, Ebersol also mentioned that he had the chance to get Al Michaels and now the two are partners on the NBC broadcast years later. 

According to Collinsworth, Ebersol has been an important figure in his life. Collinsworth told Eisen that at one point, he could have stayed at FOX or gone to CBS at the time. He was going to go to CBS, but something Ebersol said made him change his mind: 

“He said ‘you are very good at football and breaking it down and serious and you’re edgy. They are going to teach you how to have fun with broadcasting. They are going to teach you that broadcasting is more than just the game. It’s a story. It’s a sense of humor. It’s a welcome into my home.’ I thought about it a long time and I was definitely going to be the fourth wheel on that show, but I was happy that I did.”

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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